15 Beers Brewers Couldn’t Live Without

Looking for new suds? Four brewers on the beer they’re drinking now, the beer they’re trying to hunt down and more.

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Nobody knows beer like the people who make it. We asked four premier brewers about what they drink after a long day, what they’re trying to hunt down, what they’ve been into recently and more.

John Walker, Athletic Brewing Co.

John Walker was tired of O’Douls dominating the non-alcoholic beer space, so he made a challenger. The head brewer at Athletic Brewing Co. and fellow cofounder Bill Shufelt homebrewed hundreds of batches of what became their Golden Ale to perfect their zero-ABV brews. Instead of using macrobrews as a reference, Walker entrenches himself and his brewery firmly within classic American craft styles. That experience informs Walker’s own tastes. From classic American Pale Ales to boundary-pushing bourbon barrel-aged stouts, here’s what he drinking nowadays.

Favorite Everyday Beer: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6%
Beer Style: American Pale Ale
Availability: National, year-round
“Just an all-time favorite: full flavored, balanced, complex sessionable classic that is as consistent as it gets. This was my true introduction to quality suds — the beer I drank with my dad as opposed to the garbage my sisters’s peers brought over in college. He would throw one back after a run and then give me a couple sips and yammer on about how refreshing and nutritional beer can be… you know, before carbs were a curse word. It is still perfect and is still the gold standard for quality.”

Learn More: Here

Grail Beer: Avery Brewing Co. Tweak

ABV: 14.7%
Beer Style: Bourbon barrel-aged coffee stout
Availability: Limited, seasonal
“It is just obscene: huge, alcoholic, toasty, coffee, bourbon, warming and absolutely delicious. Perfect to drink on dark winter nights or with your laser-building-applied-mathematician-friends (my introduction to the beer). A level of complexity that most brewers can only hope to attain in a full and fruitful career. Think fur coat, fire, chocolate sauce and some heavy metal. If you can find one, get it.”

Learn More: Here

Best Beer You Drank Recently: Second Street Brewery 2920 IPA

ABV: 7.3%
Beer Style: IPA
Availability: Local, year-round
“It is the brightest and most refreshing IPA out there — super pale yet complex pils malt character with a wild, diesely, tropical, oily goodness from an incredible portfolio of Northwest and New Zealand hops. My friends and mentors at my old stomping grounds are killing it with this SoCal-inspired IPA. It is a perfect example of how to utilize non-traditional ingredients to create a super unique product in a market saturated with amazing competition. Perfect for those beautiful New Mexico mountain sunsets.”

Learn More: Here

The Beer That Changed Things for You: La Cumbre Brewing Co. Elevated IPA

ABV: 7.2%
Beer Style: IPA
Availability: Local, year-round
“It was one of the first craft IPAs that made me realize you can marry traditional ingredients, new school techniques and a load of passion to refresh and elevate classic styles. One of the best IPAs ever.”

Learn More: Here

Nick Nunns, TRVE Brewing

If you walk into the taproom at TRVE Brewing (pronounced “True”) in downtown Denver, Colorado you’ll quickly realize it’s a bit different — black walls, pentagrams and heavy metal music are the norm. But while TRVE can be intimidating at first, once you order a beer (probably of the mixed fermentation variety) from founder Nick Nunns, it’s apparent the brewery, beers and Nunns himself are incredibly approachable. Since 2012, TRVE has made beers that aim to go “beyond the pale” (a fancy way of saying it’s not just IPAs), and his own tastes run the spectrum from classic macro-lagers to Belgian-style icons. Here’s what he’s drinking nowadays.

Favorite Everyday Beer: Coors Banquet

ABV: 5%
Beer Style: Lager
Availability: National, year-round
“I’m lucky to be in a city where we’re awash in great independent beer. I’m also lucky enough to be able to bring home excellent, everyday beers from work. However, when I think of an everyday beer, it’s one that you could get at a venue controlled by the shitty mega-distributors, or a beer you could find in some rural town with a single stoplight. For me, this beer is Coors Banquet. It’s never disappointing, ridiculously shelf-stable (thus, generally always fresh), and in my opinion, is one of the best macro-lagers out there. Do I drink it every day? Nah. Is it a great everyday beer? Hell yeah.”

Learn More: Here

Grail Beer: Allagash White

ABV: 5.2%
Beer Style: Witbier
Availability: National, year-round
“I’m a chronic hobbyist and as such searching for beers has long been replaced with new passions. I don’t think a grail beer to me would need to be rare, or even particularly laborious, aged, ingredient-heavy, etc. When I’m lucky enough to be in a state where I can find it, I’m almost always on the lookout for Allagash White. It’s about as much of an Arthurian quest for a beer as I’m willing to pursue these days.”

Learn More: Here

Best Beer You Drank Recently: Free Range Party Time

ABV: 6.4%
Beer Style: Festbier
Availability: Local, seasonal
“I just got back from Arizona Wilderness’s Camp Coolship, which was an incredible weekend. They hosted a tap takeover with all the participating breweries at their downtown Phoenix location the night after we camped out, so I got to try a bunch of really great beers. One of the standouts for me was Party Time, a festbier from Free Range out of Charlotte, North Carolina. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to try their beers up until now, and apparently this was the first lager they ever brewed. If this is where they’re starting off I think their lager program is gonna be great.”

Learn More: Here

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Evil Twin Brewing

There are not many brewers more willing to experiment with ingredients, flavors and beer-naming-conventions than Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, founder of Evil Twin Brewing. The Danish-born New York City transplant has made a name for himself doing just that by brewing big pastry stouts, New England IPAs and palate-challenging sours.

He recently opened up his first taproom in Ridgewood, Queens for the Evil Twin New York City brand where he will continue to push the envelope (and make some simple pilsners, too). Jarnit-Bjergsø’s own drinking tastes are heavily-rooted in traditional Belgian styles which is the perfect foundation for American craft beer innovation. Here’s what he’s drinking nowadays.

Best Beer You Drank Recently: Burley Oak Double Carrot Cake J.R.E.A.M.

ABV: 7%
Beer Style: Fruited Sour Ale
Availability: Regional to Mid-Atlantic

“The Burley Oak Double Carrot Cake J.R.E.A.M. Burley Oak is known for making heavy fruited sours but their use of vegetables, in this case, brings a more savory flavor and is just spot on! I was honestly blown away by everything in this beer — from color to mouthfeel to flavor.”

Learn More: Here

Favorite Everyday Beer: Belgian Duvel

ABV: 8.5%
Beer Style: Belgian Strong Golden Ale
Availability: International

“That’s a very difficult question, as I tend not to drink the same beer every day. But the one I find myself drinking the most is the Belgian Duvel. Good tripels from Belgium while being very flavorful. These have a balance and complexity that make them easy to drink even with the high ABV.”

Learn More: Here

Grail Beer: Brouwerij De Dolle Stille Nacht

ABV: 12%
Beer Style: Belgian Strong Golden Ale
Availability: Limited

“I’ve had a lot, but one that really stands out to me — and has for many, many years — is the Belgian Christmas beer from De Dolle called Stille Nacht. Again, so much balance, so much complexity and at 12 percent ABV, it’s perfect for the colder months.”

Learn More: Here

Veronica Vega, Deschutes Brewery

Veronica Vega did not come to brewing in the traditional way. When most brewers get their start by homebrewing, Veronica was enamored with the scale of production brewing when she started at Deschutes as a tour guide. Having a degree in biology, she was blown away by the magnitude of the equipment and the delicate balance it required to operate.

Now the Director of Product Development at Deschutes Brewery, Vega’s tastes run the spectrum of fruit beers to the real champagne of beers to porters (she does work at Deschutes remember). Here’s what she’s drinking nowadays.

Best Beer You Drank Recently: Cerveceria Cyprez Saison

ABV: 6%
Beer Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
Availability: Local, Year-Round

“I had the pleasure of being a judge at Copa Cerveza, the competition for Mexican Craft Beer. I judged the medal round for saisons, one of my favorite beer styles, and we gave the gold to Saison by Cerverceria Cyprez. It was so magical and memorable.”

Learn More: Here

Favorite Everyday Beer: New Belgium x Primus Mural Agua Fresca

ABV: 4%
Beer Style: Fruit Beer
Availability: National, Year-Round

“Honest answer: I never drink the same beer every day, which I am annoyed at myself for admitting. I can be very seasonally or situationally inclined when it comes to any beverage really. Fall is my time for CDAs and Bier de Gardes. If it’s just a one-pint situation, I typically go for hoppy. If I’m on a boat, Modelo. Pairing with sushi or Thai food, a saison. With cheese, a beer with brett character. This summer I really dug New Belgium/Primus Mural, a beer I actually purchased twice.”

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Grail Beer: Brouwerij Bosteels DeuS

ABV: 11.5%
Beer Style: Brut de Flandres
Availability: International, Year-Round

“Somewhat rare, though more so a beer I find impossible to replicate is DeuS by Brouwerij Bosteels. It’s a Brut de Flandres — the closest thing to champagne that a beer will ever be. They follow the method champenoise, a painstakingly long and tedious bottle conditioning technique that includes riddling (turning the bottle half turns regularly to motivate the yeast down towards the neck) and disgorging (freezing the yeast in the neck, removing it and then corking). It carries beautiful, elegantly light spice notes from the Belgian yeast, but also herbal elderflower, light mint, and lemon. It’s magical. Eleven percent for special occasions, or when you find yourself at a Belgian beer festival and never leave the booth because it’s the best thing there.”

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The Beer That Changed Things for You: Sierra Nevada Porter

ABV: 5.6%
Beer Style: Porter
Availability: National, Year-Round

“Sierra Nevada Porter introduced me to craft in general. Brought a feeling of fulfillment and delight to my solo camping adventures in college. I would pack my dog, a stick of salami, a cheese block, crackers and mustard and Sierra Nevada Porter and all was right in the world. Porter comes back full circle in that I ended up at Deschutes, whose Black Butte Porter has defined the category and remains one of my favorite beers today, especially on nitro.”

Learn More: Here

Beer You’re in Search of (ISO): Odell Brewing Co. Mountain Standard IPA

ABV: 6.5%
Beer Style: IPA
Availability: Local, Year-Round

“This summer I got to try Odell’s Mountain Standard on a trip to Idaho and I’m in search of it in Oregon because it might be the perfect IPA. Yes, I said it. I am also currently working on NA beers. We have a really cool Irish Stout in development and so I’m always keeping an eye out for craft NA to keep my finger on the pulse.”

Learn More: Here

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